Ethics Alert

(If one of your papers has recently become
available online and you would like me to link to it in the next Ethics Alert,
then please send me an email or
an email attachment (.doc or .rtf) with the relevant information, following the
format used below. The relevant information should be properly formatted so
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Procurable from the author:

Justin D’Arms, Relationality, Relativism, and Realism About Moral Value.
Forthcoming in Philosophical Studies
(Book Symposium on P. Railton, Facts Values and Norms).

Justin D’Arms, Two Arguments for Sentimentalism. Forthcoming
in Philosophical Issues 15.

Justin D’Arms (with
Daniel Jacobson), Anthropocentric Constraints on Human Value. Forthcoming
in Oxford Studies in Metaethics 1.

Justin D’Arms (with
Daniel Jacobson), Sensibility Theory and Projectivism. Forthcoming
in  Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory, D. Copp ed.

Alan
Thomas
, Values, Reasons and
Perspectives
. Proceedings of the
Aristotelian Society
, 1996-7. Two agents in a morally dilemmatic situation
can agree on the values in that situation and their bearing on decision but
come to different all things considered verdicts about what to do. It is argued
that Sen’s notion of evaluator relativity in which outcomes differ in value
according to whether one is the proposed author or viewer of the proposed
action can be adapted to solve the problem.  Practical reasons are
perspectival in a more radical way than judgements of value, but still
objective. Adapting Sen’s insight by explaining it as a claim about reasons not
values solves the paradox while remaining cognitivist about values and
impartialist about reasons.

Alan Thomas, Minimalism and
Quasi-Realism
. Philosophical Papers,
(November, 1997), pp. 233-239. Expressivism’s problem in solving the
Frege/Geach problem concerning unasserted contexts is evaluated in the light of Blackburn’s own methodological commitment to
assessing philosophical theories in terms of costs and benefits. Projectivism
is supposed to be a local and contrastive thesis or the central metaphor of
projection makes no sense. So in competition with minimalism, projectivism must
– at least for non-contested areas of thought and language – presuppose
non-minimal truth. Why globally revise logic, in order solely to explain the
problem of unasserted contexts, when a rival view can do so much better
according to the standards set by the quasi-realist? Why do so when a notion of
non-minimal truth and a classical explanation of logic are already available to
you, given the local and contrastive claims of quasi-realism?

Alan Thomas, Consequentialism
and the Subversion of Pluralism
. In Brad Hooker, Elinor Mason and Dale
Miller (eds) Morality, Rules and Consequences, EdinburghUniversityPress
(2000). This paper critically analyses Brad Hooker’s attempt to undercut
pluralism by arguing that any plausible set of prima facie duties can be
derived from a more fundamental rule consequentialist principle. It is argued
that this conclusion is foreshadowed by the rationalist and epistemologically
realist interpretation that Hooker imposes on his chosen methodology of
reflective equilibrium; he is not describing pluralism in its strongest version
and a more plausible version of pluralism is described and defended.

Alan Thomas, Internal Reasons and
Contractualist Impartiality
. Utilitas,
volume 14, number 2 July pp. 135-154, (2002). This paper interprets Bernard
Williams’s claim that all practical reasons must meet the internal reasons
constraint. It is argued that this constraint is independent of any substantive
Humean claims about reasons and its rationale is a content scepticism about the
capacity of pure reason to supply reasons for action. The dispute between
Williams and McDowell is separately discussed and identified in terms of
psychologism, which Williams was happy to adopt for practical reasons, McDowell
not, and whether appeal to the content of the reasons of a phronimos gives any
purchase on the contents of an agent’s reasons.  The final sections
attempt a positive reconciliation of the internal reasons account with the
motivation for external reasons, namely, securing practical objecitivy in the
form of a commitment to impartiality. Impartiality is given a contractualist
interpretation in the limited sense that socialised agents have a central
disposition to hold those reasons that are defensible to reasonable
interlocutors, but this is not a substantive constraint on their content. Such
a commitment plays a structural role in motivation illustrated by the analogy
of the internalisation of a relativised a priori principle.

Alan Thomas, Reasonable
Partiality and the Agents’ Personal Point of View
. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, vol 8, nos 1-2, April pp. 25 – 43,
(2005). It is argued that reasonable partiality is the only view that is
compatible with our best account of the nature of self-knowledge. That account
rules out any instrumental relationship between moral demands and moral
character, but that familiar claim is given an unfamiliar explanation. Ethical
transparency is the feature that my virtues do not exhibit themselves to me in
self-knowledge, but take me transparently to the way in which they saliently represent the world as containing evaluative properties calling for various forms of response. It is concluded that reasonable partiality grounded in the nature of the virtues is the only reflective account of morality compatible with the most plausible account of the nature of self-knowledge. The demands of impartiality are  incompatible with a condition of having a personal point of view, namely, that a self can stand in a non-alienated relation to itself via its capacity for self-knowledge.

Alan Thomas, Practical Reasoning and
Normative Relevance
. Journal of Moral
Philosophy
, vol. 4 no. 1, April, (2007).  A putative problem for the
moral particularist is that he or she fails to capture the normative relevance
of certain considerations that they carry on their face, or the intuitive
irrelevance of other considerations. It is argued in response that mastery of
certain topic specific truisms about a subject matter is what it is for a
reasonable interlocutor to be engaged in a moral discussion, but the relevance
of these truisms has nothing to do with the particularist/generalist dispute.
Given that practical reasoning is plausibly a form of abductive reasoning, and
is therefore non-monotonic, any arbitrary addition of information can change
the degree of support evidence offers for a conclusion. Given this
arbitrariness, it is no objection to the particularist if he or she represents
the ‘normative landscape as flat’ in a way that does not display the ‘obvious’
relevance of certain considerations. Appealing to a distinction between
practical reasoning and moral reasoning does not help to resurrect this
pseudo-problem for particularism.

Procurable
from the publisher:

Daniel Jacobson, Review of Henry R. West (ed.), The
Blackwell Guide to Mill’s Utilitarianism, Blackwell Publishing, 2006, 275pp.,
$29.95 (pbk)
. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

Lynette Reid, Review of Alan Cribb’s Health and the Good Society: Setting
Healthcare Ethics in Social Context
, Oxford University Press, 2005, 236pp.,
$85.00 (hbk)
. Notre Dame
Philosophical Reviews.

4 Replies to “Ethics Alert

  1. Those in the post work too. It’s just for some reason the formatting got messed up when I did some cutting and pasting and so the links appear in black, not blue. But if you scroll over them, you’ll find that the pointer turns to a hand and you can click on them.

  2. Oh, sorry. I misunderstood the “Procurable from the Publisher”, and I didn’t see the highlighting.
    I like the new contrast; I think it’s much clearer this way.

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